Coming up with a budget was a challenge because the bride and groom had
different priorities. As a singer, Monica wanted to have great ceremony and
reception music, while Alex's priority was a memorable honeymoon. Living in
Seattle, they both wanted to show off their beloved city and the great Northwest
to their relatives who live out of town. With Monica's Chinese-American
background, the local Pacific Rim theme could not be a better fit.
Then the legwork began. They set aside time to discuss the wedding over brunch
each Sunday. "It was just like engaging a team on a project at work. You need
regular meetings to check in, talk about priorities, and divvy up the next
steps," Monica said. They checked locations and vendors, compared different
products and prices. The prices quoted by venues and restaurants were the hardest to
figure out and needed special attention. Some venues offered prices that were
all-inclusive. Others split out certain items such as parking; set-up/clean-up
fees; and rental of china, flatware, and table linens. It often turned out that a
seemingly inexpensive proposal ended up being higher priced when they added up
all the costs.
The ceremony programs, which featured the Chinese character "double
happiness" written by Monica's father, were handmade by the bride and groom.
During the many hours they planned together, they also talked about wedding
traditions. For one thing, they wanted to share the same last name, yet each
wanted to keep his or her own. In the end, they both decided to hyphenate their last
names. The new name now reflects an equal union and at the same time preserves
their individual identities and heritage. They also talked about ceremony and
reception traditions. For example, Monica, who is close to both parents, wanted
both her mother and father to walk her down the aisle. As many modern couples
prefer, they also chose to forgo the bouquet and garter toss.
The bride and her attendants wore dresses
that hinted at Monica's Chinese heritage.
At I Do Bridal in Wallingford, Monica
found the perfect dress -- a white strapless with a flowery red and gold border
around the bodice and the skirt -- that combined elements of the traditional
Chinese wedding dress with the modern-day white. The bride's attendants wore
colorful, custom-made Chinese dresses (called "Qi Paos" or "Cheong Sams")
ordered online through a Hong Kong dress
shop. Each bridesmaid carried a bouquet in different colors, designed by
Monica and Alex took full advantage of the
beautiful Pacific Northwest and treated their out-of-town guests to a rehearsal
dinner on a boat from Waterway Cruises.
"It was a warm evening, and our guests really enjoyed cruising Lake Union and
Lake Washington," Monica said.
Then came the Big Day. Monica and Alex were married at St. Benedict Catholic
Church in Wallingford. The ceremony was a Catholic Mass with music provided by
the Cantare Vocal Ensemble, a choir in which Monica is a member. The reception
for about 100 guests was held at
This contemporary location right on the waters of Shilshole Bay provided a
typical Northwest atmosphere, a beautiful view, wonderful fresh food, and superb
Andea, the catering manager, not only gave valuable advice, but
also followed the couples' instructions to a T. "The Ray's staff went above and
beyond the call of duty to take care of us and our guests. For example, when two
friends arrived after the buffet was cleared, the Ray's staff prepared a special
dish just for them. It's something they've raved about ever since. I have never
seen such perfect servers -- warm and personable -- they almost seemed like
friends," Monica told me.
The wedding cake was "the bride's dream come true." Each cake layer was
decorated with a red and gold Chinese ribbon in addition to fresh flowers. A
pretty note on the cake table explained the story behind the cake. "When I was
10 years old, I was invited to a cousin's wedding in Taiwan where they served a
delicious cake filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It made such an
impression on me that, as a little girl, I decided I wanted to serve the same
kind of cake at my own wedding," Monica said. Mimi's Bakery, an Asian bakery in
Beacon Hill, fulfilled her dreams.
Monica designed the centerpieces, which consisted of Chinese silk cloth and
childhood photos of the bride and groom. Each guest took home a pair of
chopsticks tied with colorful cords. Instead of signing a guest book, guests
wrote special messages on plates decorated by the bride and groom with song
lyrics, poems, and verses. The plates were later finished at the Paint Patch in
Ballard. "It's more precious than any china we could ever have registered for,"
The couple was very pleased with the work of photographer
Debra Gerth who documented the
wedding for them and for us. "Deb caught those special moments on film that make
your wedding day memorable, not just for you but also for your guests. She was so
unobtrusive that many people didn't even realize she was there. Deb was even
able to sneak up and photograph the antics of our four-year-old flower girl."
The couple honeymooned in Maui and Kauai after the wedding.